Monday, January 26, 2015



PRESS RELEASE:  26 January 2015


It’s a daunting task, to deliberate over someone’s well-crafted art work. A poetry competition is even more so because a poem is a personal and intricate space of words and music. In selecting the Judges for 2015, the BN Poetry Foundation team chose people that understood these dynamics, people who held literature, especially poetry in high regard and had made significant impact on the continent. Each judge will look at each poem submission carefully before submitting the long-list by early July 2015.

 Professor Antjie Krog.

(Image Source: Internet)
Antjie Krog is a poet, writer, journalist and Extraordinary professor at the University of the Western Cape. She has published twelve volumes of poetry in Afrikaans and three non-fiction books in English:Country of my Skull, on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission; A Change of Tongue about the transformation in South Africa after ten years and recently Begging to be Black about the different ethical frameworks operating in the country’s democracy. Her works have been translated into English, Dutch, Italian, French, Spanish, Swedish, Serbian and Arabic.

Krog has been awarded most of the prestigious South African awards for non-fiction and poetry in both Afrikaans and English. International recognition came through the award of the Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture (2000); Open Society Prize (2006) from the Central European University (previous winners Jürgen Habermas and Vaclav Havel);Research fellowship at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2007/2008 and an Honorary Doctorate from the Tavistock Clinic of the University of East London UK.
Here are some of her prizes, publications and awards.

*Eugene Marais prize for the most promising young writer (1973)
*Dutch/Flemish prize Reina Prinsen-Geerligs prize for most promising young writer (1976)
*Pringle Award for excellence in journalism for reporting on the Truth Commission (1996)
* Honourable Mention in the Noma Awards for Publishing in Africa for ‘Country of my Skull’ (1999)
* Country of my Skull was named as one of the top 100 books written by Africans in the twentieth century
*Open Society Prize (2006) from the Central European University (previous winners were Jürgen Habermas and Vaclav Havel)
*Protea Prize for best volume of poetry in Afrikaans for 2006 (Verweerskrif)
*  Honorary Doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch
*  Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Orange Freestate
*  Honorary Doctorate from the Nelson Mandela MetropolitanUniversity

Books Published:
Dogter van Jefta (Human &Rousseau 1970); Januarie Suite (H&R 1972),Mannin (H&R 1974),Beminde Antarktika (H&R 1974),Otter in Bronslaai (H&R 1981),Jerusalemgangers (H&R 1985),Lady Anne (Taurus:1989),Gedigte 1989-1995 (Hond: 1995),Kleur kom nooit alleen nie (Kwela 2000),Eerste Gedigte (H&R 2003) (Heruitgawe),Verweerskrif (Umuzi 2006),English Translations of Poetry ,Down to my Last Skin (Random House 2000), Body Bereft (Umuzi 2006)

Country of my Skull (Random House 1998),A Change of Tongue (Random House 2003) ,‘n Ander Tongval (Tafelberg 2005)

Relaas van ’n Moord (Human and Rousseau 1995),Account of a Murder (translated by Karen Press) (Heinemann 1997),Poetry for young Children
Mankepank en ander Monsters (1989),Voëls van anderster vere (1992) Buchu Books,Fynbos feetjies (Umuzi 2007),Fynbos fairies (Umuzi 2007)


Met woorde soos met kerse (Kwela 2002), The stars say ‘tsau’ (Kwela 2004),Die sterre sê ‘tsau’ (Kwela 2004)

. We asked Professor Anjtie Krog, what she expected from the poetry submissions of this year and the significant changes in poetry from the continent.

1.       What do you feel is significant about poetry from Africa today?
That it is highly privileged by being surrounded by unchartered spaces and spaces unchartered by Africans.  
2.       What do you expect from the award submissions of the BN Poetry Award?
It would be very interesting to see the variety of themes (the usual: love, death, my mother, Africa or not?); the variety of voices (the "I", the personal or the general "we" or something new?); the variety of forms (sonnets, ballads or the use of indigenous forms?) and finally the style (what are the metaphors, images, surprising verbs and nouns etc?). I am also curious about whether rap and slam poets will enter, and if so, how?     

Introducing Richard Ali

Courtesy photo

Richard Ali is a lawyer, author and poet born in Kano, Nigeria. Author of the warmly received 2012 novel, City of Memories, Richard is also Editor-in-Chief of the Sentinel Nigeria Magazine and was a runner-up at the 2008 John la Rose Short Story Competition. He edits the quarterly Sentinel Nigeria Magazine and serves as Publicity Secretary [North] on the Association of Nigerian Authors. Richard completed a 6-week Residency at the Ebedi Writers Residency Program in 2012, attended the Chimamanda Adichie-led Farafina Workshop in 2012 and was a Guest at the 2013 Ake Book and Arts Festival, Abeokuta. He lives in Abuja where he practices law and runs the northern office of Parrésia Publishers Ltd where he serves as Chief Operating Officer. He is unmarried and enjoys chess, reading and travelling. He is working on his debut collection of poems, The Divan.
Poetry Works
Radio Play-
Emmanuel Iduma interviews Richard Ali
Downloadable novel excerpt:
Two questions for Richard.

1. What do you feel is significant about poetry from Africa today?

I had the pleasure of judging the 2014 Poetry Prize and two things seem particularly significant about contemporary African Poetry—the variety of its concerns and the quality of craft with which these concerns are expressed. I have read poetry from all over the continent and while their concerns remain seemingly local and personal, they have succeeded largely in expressing these in a way that does not exclude. The national and nationalist, or regional, concerns are gone now in favour of the individual’s vantage interpretation of the personal.

2. What do you expect from the award submissions of the BN Poetry Award 2015?

I look forward to a deluge of submissions and to a lot of work. Well over a thousand entries were received last year and I expect even more this year. My personal preference, and the emphasis of my selection, will be biased towards the craftsmen who can turn out the newer, fresher image and metaphor while keeping a keen ear to the sound of each syllable of each line. The better poetry, to my mind, are those that that can achieve these without showing the effort it takes. The value of the better poem rises inversely to how less of its effort it reveals.
Introducing Mildred Barya

Courtesy photo

Mildred Kiconco Barya, a Ugandan doctorate fellow at The University of Denver. She holds a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Syracuse University and a Masters Degree in Organisational Psychology from Makerere University.

She is the author of three award-winning poetry collections, namely:-
Give Me Room to Move My Feet, published in 2009 by Amalion Press in Senegal, The Price of Memory after the Tsunami, published by Mallory Publishers in UK and Men love Chocolates But They Don’t Say, self-published collection in 2002. Mildred serves on the advisory board of African Writers Trust where she is also a founding member. She is devoted to social change through creative works and blogs regularly at

Mildred received high recommendation in 2004 during the Caine Prize selections.  She was awarded the 2008 Pan African Literary Forum Prize for Africana Fiction. Barya's short fiction has appeared in FEMRITE anthologies, Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, African Love Stories, Picador Africa, and Pambazuka News. An excerpt from her novel What Was Left Behind earned her the 2008 Pan African Literary Forum Prize for Africana Fiction, as judged by Junot Diaz, the Dominican-American Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer and essayist.

Two questions for Mildred:

What do you feel is significant about poetry from Africa today?

Poetry from Africa today is very diverse, unpredictable, surprising and refreshing in scope, vision, form, narrative, style, voice, and so on.
2.       What do you expect from the award submissions of the BN Poetry Award?
To say that I expect variety is an understatement, but I’m looking forward to interesting perspectives, experimental work, and genre-breaking poetry that defies traditional or even modern forms of categorization. In short, I have great expectations and no room for disappointment.
The BN Poetry Foundation team is grateful for this esteemed panel of judges and to their media partners, Afridiaspora.


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